398. The wanderer (IV)
Robin DiAngelo maintains that we live in a system characterised by “white supremacy”; when this system has been dismantled, so she thinks, we will enter a truly post-racial era. The interim measure is to make white people more aware that they are white; perhaps they just think that they are “ordinary people”, not white at all. So DiAngelo’s project aims to raise racial consciousness; now, from her perspective, racial consciousness will be raised only to dissipate; once people are aware they are “white” then the illusion that race exists will vanish.
Yet a certain proportion who hears about DiAngelo’s ideas will react and become self-conscious white supremacists; and another section will initially embrace her ideas only to be disillusioned when they notice contradictions and so will again endorse the opposite position. Her ideas are a recipe for racialisation; and DiAngelo is trapped by her ideas, for she relies on the system she disdains to survive; and she can never admit that. Her unconscious drive is to create white racial affirmation; after all, she wears an ouroboros necklace—the serpent that comes full circle.
Jordan Peterson has said that the individual is the most important political subject, and that totalitarianism comes about because the individual is neglected—so class, race, sex, and so on must not be politicised. In this process, Peterson has become a leader; he is followed by millions upon millions of people. As in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, the mob—filled with adoration—follows him everywhere; exasperated, he turns to them and says, “You’re all individuals! You’ve all got to think for yourselves!” The mob chants back: “Yes! We’re all individuals! We’ve all got to think for ourselves!” Peterson cannot affirm that collectivity matters in politics, just as DiAngelo cannot affirm that whites produce good things—to do so would contradict the message upon which their authority depends.
Peterson would be afraid that since thousands of people have said he has brought them back from the brink that a sudden change in message would cause them to despair and destroy themselves—so he has to manage his message carefully. DiAngelo thinks that if she admitted that “white supremacy” produces many good things that she would betray the oppressed people who depend on her and add to their persecution.
So DiAngelo and Peterson are people with problems; good problems, in a sense—since millions listen to them—and, in another sense, bad problems; since, as leaders, they are bound by their message; hence it is lonely at the top. Prince Harry has a similar problem; he was born a prince, but being narcissistic—as with his mother—he has adopted views popular with his wife’s Hollywood set to please them. He thinks he can escape his birth through playing ‘umble; he cannot escape, nobody—especially not Meghan, who married him because he is a prince—values him for his pseudo-psychoanalytical self-abasement; nobody is more egotistical than when they play ‘umble.
DiAngelo, Peterson, and Harry have created masks that are invitations to make you believe in what they are; when you do not know the Self you look to others to tell you who you are through a mask, and you must exclude something about reality to create the mask—and what you exclude possesses you. DiAngelo builds affirmative white racial consciousness; Peterson builds collective racial identity (why his enemies identify him with the Nazi Red Skull comic character); and Harry exerts arbitrary monarchical power. Yet there is nothing behind the mask; and to shatter the mask is to let reality in. Most do not know who they are; they look to others to tell them who they are when the mask they create is affirmed—yet those people do not know who they are either. Mask speaks to mask. Nothingness is not an idea, a mask is an idea; nothingness is not intellectual—it cannot contradict itself—it just mirrors whatever comes before it; being hollow, it can only echo—the echo is liberation.